French teacher Sophia Lataille is not only new to Xavier but to the classroom. This is her first year as a teacher, so every step of the way is a first step. She has been learning just as her students have been learning. We are following her at various times throughout the year, giving readers a glimpse into the life of a first-year teacher. This is our third post.
Sophie Lataille is feeling more comfortable and confident as a first-year teacher, but she is not looking too far into the future. The here and now is challenging enough.
“Right now I am focusing on finishing the year. I know it’s the fourth quarter and I would love it if I was able to start making goals for next year/this summer, but I still need to devote all my energy into the present,” Lataille said. “There's so much to improve on a daily basis, that's my focus for the time being.”
Lataille continues to learn – about herself and her students.
“In the beginning of the year I was more focused on the kids enjoying class and not pushing them too hard,” Lataille said. “Next year I will be able to push harder off the bat knowing my students more.”
Lataille is thankful for the “small moments with students and faculty; this school is about personal relationships and making a connection. I had heard over and over about enduring relationships, and I have seen it come together in my classes and in other student-teacher relationships.”
At the end of the year she will have time to reflect on her teaching and sets goals for next year.
“Just going through a school year and seeing the process will make me more prepared for next year,” Lataille said. “Now that I've taught all of my classes once, I know what to expect and have an idea of what I can improve. Again, it's not so much information learned that will help, but the time spent with students, content, and in front of the class that will most help me going forward.”
Lataille is still figuring out work/life balance but says she is getting better at it and has learned to use her time more wisely than when she started. During Christmas vacation she did get away from it all, traveling to Colombia to visit a friend.
“I originally met this friend in France when we were both teaching assistants, so I got to speak French the whole time. I also learned some Spanish which was fun,” she said. “Colombia is an absolutely beautiful country with incredible things to see. I was so thankful to have a friend with me from the area so that I could more fully enjoy the experience.”
Experience. That’s what Lataille gains each passing day. She is the type of person who likes to be super organized, but she also knows the reality of the world.
“Be prepared,” she said of advice she’d give a first-year teacher, “but be willing to be flexible and be ready to roll with whatever goes on.”
The year is flying by. Before you know it, the phrase "first-year teacher" will be erased.